Ex-Celtic man reflects on the moment he achieved 'boyhood dream' at Paradise

By Lewis Laird

November 23, 2022

Former Celtic defender Paul Caddis has reflected on his ‘boyhood dream’ of playing for the Hoops when making his home debut against Barcelona in 2008.

The 34-year-old came through the ranks at Parkhead as a youngster and captained youth sides before making his debut under Gordon Strachan.

His first two competitive games for the Bhoys came against Falkirk and Kilmarnock during two victories on the road for the Hoops.

Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Just one month after his debut for the club, Caddis was thrust onto the big stage after he made his first appearance at Celtic Park against none other than Barcelona.

The ex-Scotland international started the last-16 Champions League tie as Celtic suffered a closely contested 3-2 defeat to the European champions.

Speaking in a recent interview, Caddis has been reflecting on his career, which was brought to an end after a spell at Swindon Town in 2021.

The former Birmingham City man admitted that he lived out a boyhood dream of playing at Celtic Park against some of the world’s best forward players.

Any youngster would have been nervous going into that game. However, not Caddis, who was looking to make his mark on the big stage.

He said [Birmingham Live]: “I remember it like it was yesterday. I don’t get nervous at football games, I never have, I always see the bigger picture, there’s worse things in life and hand on heart, I genuinely wasn’t nervous that night.

Photo by Rachel Holborn – CameraSport via Getty Images

“I knew no matter what, I was a 19-year-old rookie, if I did well, brilliant, and if I didn’t, I was exactly that, a 19-year-old rookie. The closest I got to these guys was playing them on the PlayStation or seeing them on TV, so it was surreal just standing in that tunnel.

“First of all, I was a Celtic fan, so it was a boyhood dream for me to play for Celtic, to do it in the Champions League, that alone regardless of who the opposition was amazing for me and my family.

“Then looking across and seeing Messi, Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Eto’o, Deco was ridiculous. It probably didn’t sink in until I finished my career 18 months-two years ago.

“I was marking Ronaldinho, at that time he was the man, everyone knew about Messi, he was coming, but at that time, it was Ronaldinho. He had the strongest backside I ever played against.

“There was one moment early on in the game where I have made a sliding tackle, and it’s gone off him out for our throw, and I remember him looking at me and giving me the nod of approval, like ‘Well done’. That, for me, was unbelievable, he was meant to be my enemy on the pitch.”

Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images

For any Celtic supporter, you can only imagine the sort of feeling you would get from making your Paradise debut on the Champions League stage.

Well, Paul Caddis was able to live that dream of pulling on the green and white Hoops on one of the biggest stages of them all at the beginning of his career.

As a boyhood fan, he and his family must have been so incredibly proud.

Although Caddis’ dream of being a Celtic player may have come to an end in 2010, around 14 years on from his Celtic Park debut, he still has his links to the club.

After his recent retirement, Caddis has since moved into an academy coaching role at English League One side Fleetwood Town, who are, of course, managed by club icon Scott Brown.

Funnily enough, Brown was an unused substitute the night of the Barcelona game as he watched on during one of the highlights of Caddis’s career.

Now the pair continue to work alongside one another as they look to create the next generation of talent at Fleetwood Town.

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